Toyota adds agency help in Washington

WASHINGTON: Toyota Motor Sales has hired two PR firms in DC, as it prepares to be grilled about the safety of its vehicles at congressional hearings later this month.

WASHINGTON: Toyota Motor Sales has hired two PR firms in DC, as it prepares to be grilled about the safety of its vehicles at congressional hearings later this month.

Mike Michels, VP, communications, Toyota Motor Sales USA, confirmed to PRWeek that Toyota has hired Glover Park Group and Quinn Gillespie & Associates, both Washington-based firms. Toyota's Washington office had already been working with Powell Tate, a long-standing agency partner, on the crisis, which has seen millions of vehicles recalled over problems with gas pedals and, most recently, brakes.

In total, Toyota is working with five different PR agencies on the crisis. The other two are Robinson Lerer & Montgomery and GolinHarris, the latter of which works with the sales and marketing group in the Torrance, CA-based head office for Toyota North America.

While Toyota declined to elaborate on their agency relationships, Cindy Knight, public affairs manager, Toyota Motor Sales USA, said the Washington office “has ramped up communications, government relations and compliance efforts in order to get the most timely, transactional information to lawmakers and their staff about our efforts to ensure a successful vehicle recall and repair effort.”

She said regular updates about the recall and repair effort are also being sent to offices on Capitol Hill as well as the media. Toyota dealers, suppliers and employees are also taking part in outreach efforts targeted at elected representatives at home as well as in Washington, added Knight.

Toyota's troubles continued earlier Tuesday, when it announced a voluntary recall of more than 400,000 Prius and other hybrid models worldwide to fix a malfunction with the brakes. The automaker is already in the midst of two other recalls, both involving gas pedals affecting a number of its models, totaling more than 8 million vehicles globally, according to media reports.

The automaker said it is sending letters to owners of recalled vehicles.

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